When quitting is a good thing

This is something I was going to post over the weekend until Saturday night I exited my friend’s car and walking down her block, where a lot of construction was going on, twisted my ankle. I twisted it so badly that an hour later I felt like my foot had been run over by a truck. Since it was Saturday night and I was not at home, my friend went out to a neighborhood drug store to buy pain relievers. I spent the next two days basically with my foot up and being waited on. Alas, all dreams must come to an end, and I returned home last night to fare for myself.  

The ankle still needs rest, the pain relievers continue although at a lower dose, and I’m still wondering if my 2-day blood sugar rise was my body’s reaction to the stress or the excess unbelievably delicious whole wheat peasant bread I was gorging on all weekend at my friend’s house. Guess I’ll know soon enough now that I’m back in my bread-less house.  Proof positive, 35 years after getting diabetes every day comes with episodes and more questions. 

O.K. that out of my system, this is what I wanted to post if there’d been no drama this weekend. I was watching Oprah last week and she had on Dr. Oz, heart surgeon and one of her resident experts. He was talking about quitting smoking. While I don’t smoke, I was intrigued to see if Dr. Oz would offer any advice that would be applicable to diabetes. I was not disappointed. Here are a few transferable actions you can take to improve diabetes management.

1) Pick a quit date –  that might be the date you will chuck the junk food out of your house or quit eating as much refined carbohydrates like white rice, white potatoes, pasta, white bread. But what’s important is to pick a date.

2) Prepare yourself mentally, physically and socially – In other words decide how you’re going to handle it when you go out to eat with friends and they’re ordering desert and you’re in conflict. Know ahead of time you’ll just have two bites, for instance. If you’re starting an exercise program, what will you do if the weather’s bad and that curtails your walk? Have a back up plan.

3) Make 2 lists – Write down all the reasons why you want to improve your management, what will you gain? Then write all the reasons you don’t want to improve your management, what do you get to keep? Compare lists. What conclusions do you draw? Write them down and review them when your motivation flags.

Above all, Oz advised to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time. He went on to say, phrases like “Don’t Smoke!” just make you think about smoking. Like don’t think about a pink elephant. Like “don’t eat cake.” Instead tell yourself  the advantage of not smoking like “Breathe Free.” It keeps your mind focused on what you want. So I think phrases like “Don’t have that incredible, chocolate cheese-cake covered with lip-smacking raspberry sauce” is probably not helpful. If you replace that with, “I’m going to look fabulous at my friend’s wedding next month!”I think there’s a much better chance you will. 

Lastly, I admired Dr. Oz for an admission he made. He summed up with, “We are a society that’s not comfortable being uncomfortable. (Thus the miracle diets, 5 steps to anything, drugs for everything, addictions that momentarily seem to relieve our pain – my thoughts). Yet discomfort is the best way to grow in life. I don’t feel great every day, and it’s OK. It’s life. Some days you just don’t, accept it, it’s life.” 

I think Dr. Oz’s smoking advice makes sense for any behavior change you want to make and his admission that we don’t feel on top every day takes the pressure off. Normally I’d be really pissed off that I can’t take my daily power walk because of my ankle. But I’ll accept that some days are just not as good as others. Moreover, if I feel really sorry for myself by tonight, Ill only have one bite of my beloved gingerbread and put the rest away remembering that I’d rather have another year on the planet than another piece of gingerbread.

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